Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You may be too busy in the morning to prepare a large breakfast, so you choose between skipping breakfast altogether or relying on breakfast cereals. What could be easier than pouring dry cereal into a bowl and adding some milk?
Chances are, the breakfast cereal aisle at your grocery still will be loaded with colorful boxes and bags of dry cereal. The bright colors and cute characters on the packages may get your attention, but you need to look beyond the advertising to find out which cereals are best for you — here’s how:
Time Required: 5 to 10 minutes
1. Look for the Nutrition Facts label on the side or back of the package. This is where you’ll find all the information you need to know. You’re going to look at sugar, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and the ingredients list.
2. Choose a breakfast cereal that has 5 grams of sugar or less per serving, and use fresh berries, sliced fruit or raisins to add sweetness to your cereal. Avoid cereals with lots of sugar. Some sugary cereals have 10 grams of sugar (that’s about 3 teaspoons), or more, in one serving (usually 3/4 to 1 cup). Think about how much cereal you really eat. Many people eat two or three servings at a time.
3. Choose a cereal that is high in fiber — at least three grams per serving. You’ll find the most fiber in high-fiber cereals such as shredded wheat, oat cereals, puffed wheat and bran cereals. Usually the more sugar a cereal has, the less fiber it has per serving. The sugary cereals typically have about 1 gram per serving.
4. Look for cereals that are fortified with vitamins and minerals. If you eat a healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy protein sources and non- or low-fat dairy products, you probably don’t have to worry about getting enough vitamins and minerals. If your diet isn’t so good, or you’re buying cereal for a child who is a picky eater, getting those extra vitamins and minerals is a good idea. The amounts of fortified nutrients vary among cereals, but look for cereals with added calcium, vitamin D, folic acid and vitamin C.
5. Look over the ingredients list. You want to see the words “whole grain” or “whole wheat” listed as the first ingredient. You may also wish to avoid cereals that contain artificial flavoring and colorings.
1. Look past the colorful packaging to find the Nutrition Facts label.
2. Don’t shop when you’re hungry so you aren’t as tempted by the sweet-as-candy cereals.
3. Keep your breakfast healthy. Add non-fat milk, soy beverage or rice beverage to your cereal.
4. Add extra fiber to your healthy breakfast cereal with fresh sliced fruits or berries.